July 1: Do or Die for California High Speed Train Funding (Guess Which One We’re Hoping for?)

Via The Orange County Register, Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has named July 1 as the deadline to appropriate $2.6 billion in bonds to start construction California’s high speed boondoggle rail. California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Chairman Dan Richard agreed the bond appropriation must be passed by July 1.

You may recall U.S. Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood showing up in Sacramento earlier this month to browbeat the legislature to get moving on the money right now or risk losing the feds matching $3.3 billion of the expense (total cost for the whole project: at least $68 billion). At the time LaHood threatened legislators, California’s budget deficit stood at $9 billion. It is now $16 billion. Yet, Jerry Brown’s budget revise still funds $700,000 for the staff for the CHSRA project, and it’s clear that he still wants to move forward with the initial line from Fresno to Merced.

The Register’s Brian Joseph speculates the bonds are likely to pass because the Democrats in the Democratic-dominated legislature are supporters. But as the Los Angeles Times noted in their coverage of LaHood’s visit, some Democrats are starting to get leery about rushing the process.

If the bond isn’t approved, the train construction cannot begin. And as Tim Cavanaugh has pointed out, the state may not be able to legally issue the bonds, given the train's likely need of an operational subsidy, which the initiative authorizing the bond explicitly forbids.

Of course, deadlines for government projects have passed before, only to be extended, so our headline should probably be treated as wishful thinking.

More of Reason’s exhaustive and frustrating coverage of high speed rail here.

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  • Pip||

    FAST!

  • ||

    the state may not be able to legally issue the bonds, given the train's likely need of an operational subsidy, which the initiative authorizing the bond explicitly forbids.

    Won't they just issue the bonds, build some portion of track, and then come crying about sunk costs to the taxpayers to pony up more dough to operate it?

  • Scott S.||

    Given that taxpayers want a revote on the bonds and would likely vote it down now given the chance, it would be interesting to see them try.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...he still wants to move forward with the initial line from Fresno to Merced.

    There is no extant train line between these two metropolises? Criminal.

  • ChrisO||

    They're still ignoring the critical Alturas-to-Eureka corridor.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This will be the last folly Sacramento ever has... except for the popsicle-stick skyscraper... and the giant magnifying glass... and the escalator to nowhere.

  • John||

    I am not sure which is more depressing, that there are people dumb enough to vote for the bonds or people dumb enough to buy them.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Ahem.

  • John||

    But is anyone buying Greek bonds with their own money? I would be shocked if that were the case. All of those bonds are being bought by central bankers spending other people's money.

  • BakedPenguin||

    And even then, they're only selling for .29 on the dollar. If I had the money to cover, I'd be selling them short even at that price.

  • BakedPenguin||

    My mistake, that's apparently a 29% yield.

  • John||

    29% yield. wow. Maybe I should drop a grand or two on Greek Bonds on the odd chance that the Eu does one last bailout attempt allowing me to dump them.

  • R C Dean||

    The last EU bailout "required" the private bondholders to take a massive haircut.

    Oddly, the holdouts just got paid in full.

    I wouldn't touch a European sovereign bond with Warty's bank account.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Try this before dealing with Greeks bearing bonds.

  • sarcasmic||

    I dunno. I vote against every bond as a matter of principle, and can accurately gauge the outcome of an election by taking the inverse of my ballot.

  • mr lizard||

    They'll just postpone the deadline, and then Ray Lahood will come to California to beg the legislature to do it. Finally the feds may just withhold any highway funds by subjecting them to an endless audit.

  • daveInAustin||

    I think we all know what is going to happen. They will build the Fresno-Bakersfield leg, run trains on it for a year, then kill the whole project.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Nah,

    They'll spend the whole $2b+ on environmental impact studies and the like. Then go back for a couple more billion for more studies.

    They'll never lay a mile of track, let alone have an operational train anywhere.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Is it Fresno to Bakersfield or Fresno to Merced? I mean, come on, these people have to know which way they're ... oh.

    Never mind.

  • ||

    What was that about having a $16 billion dollar budget deficit?

  • ||

    Deficit? We're talking about moon shot here. California will be the first in the nation not to heed the financial reality and crumbled to the sea, even without the help of the Earthquake. Of course, I'm actually sitting right in the midst of it saddens me.

  • Sam Grove||

    Jerry Brown, I don't know how dumb I thought you were, but now I think you are really dumb for pushing high speed rail.

  • Sevo||

    Sam,
    Dill Act.
    That's how dumb Moonbeam is.

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